Before Telecom Bubble Burst, Some Insiders Sold Out Stakes :: The telecommunications industry, once a safe stock haven for “widows and orphans,” became a gigantic poker game during the late 1990s, a competitive, high-growth business drawing billions of dollars of fresh capital. Supported by bullish Wall Street analysts and investment banks eager to reap big stock-offering fees, industry executives helped the pot grow bigger and bigger with talk of telecom’s endless growth possibilities. Then, by the hundreds, they folded their hands at what turns out to have been the peak.Starting in 1997, telecom insiders directly cashed out over $14.2 billion in shares, a Wall Street Journal/Thomson Financial analysis shows. Add in shares sold by venture capitalists, executives’ trusts and private investment vehicles, and the number soars to roughly $18 billion